Monday, July 6, 2009

Sunday, July 5, 2009 - VENICE -- Europe will be wrangled for the next six months by a lanky, no-nonsense Swede named Carl Bildt. His country chairs this semester's cascade of European Union summits, procedural debates and other gabfests. As Sweden's foreign minister, it is Bildt's job to make sense of it all -- a task akin to herding not cats but eels.

Well, he asked for it, didn't he? When he was Sweden's prime minister in the 1990s, the conservative politician relentlessly overhauled his country's socialist economic policies and neutralist orientation to push it into the European Union. Now Sweden is stuck picking up the pieces of a deepening European economic crisis, paralyzed national governments and a constitutional stalemate.
But it was Bildt's description of the strategic consequences of climate change that galvanized my attention when he spoke here to the Council for the United States and Italy. The rapid melting of the Arctic ice sheet at the North Pole will bring "revolutionary new transport possibilities between the Atlantic and the Pacific," he told the gathering, expanding that thought for me later in an interview. More >>>